June 28, 2012

A Moment of Inspiration

by Tammy Turner

Beating the tip of the flashlight against the ledge of the attic floor did nothing to help the dying batteries. As the sallow glow of the dimming bulb blinked and gasped, my hopes of being able to see any critters before they saw me died with the last of the dim luminescence.

Fearful hesitation kept my hand from searching too far into the darkness. The tingle of a curious nibble stung my palm. A colorful description of where he could put his mouth instead of my flesh escaped from my lips as I swatted at the creepy crawler and found a new purpose for the flashlight.

A sedimentary layer of dust scattered across the garage floor as I wrangled the cardboard box down the narrow attic steps and dropped the carton to the cement.

What are you waiting for now? It might not be inside the box. You’ll never know unless you try.

The white typing paper had yellowed. The paperclip holding the pages snugly together was flaked with rust.

“The Princess and Her Puppy,” I read aloud proudly the title of the short story my father wrote for me when I was still small enough to fall asleep in his lap as he read to me. “For my little girl,” I said softly to myself, pronouncing the words handwritten carefully under his typed name.

At the bottom of the page, I placed my own thumb against his fading fingerprint. In the middle of the paper there even remained a splattered coffee stain. Behind my squinting eyes, I remembered him standing at the kitchen counter, always with his mug in his hand while he read the morning paper.

“It’s my turn now.” I said the words aloud, my voice echoing off the walls of the garage like an exclamation point. I had an idea. After all this time, after all the excuses, I was not going to let inspiration slip away.

My yellow legal pad filled with words as thoughts poured onto the paper. There was no going back. My dream had always been so close, but without fail I would let inspiration slip through my grasp time and time again. Not this time.

“The Princess and Her Puppy” now resides on a bookcase next to my other favorite authors and even my own first attempt at literary immortality. I am certain my father would not mind sharing real estate with me.

Sometimes when the morning is quiet and I am sipping from my coffee mug at the kitchen counter, I stop and listen. I can hear him, my inspiration.

Pages rustle in my ears as my father flips through the newspaper. The booming sound of his voice knocks the cobwebs from my morning bleariness.

“Kiddo,” he says. “Tell me a story.”

I always smile and glance over at the bookcase. “I’m going to have to clear off a shelf one day for my own books, Dad,” I brag to him, knowing that somehow he has heard me.

Growing up in the coastal town of Charleston, South Carolina, instilled an infatuation with history, mystery, and legend in Tammy Turner. From the time she could shuffle along behind her father, they would hunt for sharks’ teeth, explore crumbling cemeteries, and dig for lost pirate gold along the low country beaches.  

After years of talking about writing her own novel, she decided to put pen to paper and go for it. Tammy Turner's debut young adult fantasy novel, Falling into Forever was released June 5, 2012.  The struggle and thrill of creating Falling into Forever left Tammy eager to continue creating more adventures for her characters, and she looks forward to sharing more of their lives with readers.

June 27, 2012

Give Me a Break!

by Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

Ever had a day you just couldn’t get the words to sound right on paper? My ideas are in my head but for some reason the words just don’t put my ideas in a good light.  Those are the days I decide to take a break, grab a coffee from Starbucks and people watch. 

Obviously, I always have a notebook handy where I jot down thoughts, yes, but truthfully, I am jotting down descriptions of people I see.  What kind of mannerisms they have. Guessing about the look on their faces and the people sitting at their table. No, I do not eavesdrop on their conversation. I am too busy with writing down what I see, not what I hear.

When I get back to my computer, my mind seems to be full of words that just have to get to paper. Now the words look right. Oh, these words are not from the descriptions I wrote from watching the peoplethey are the words that I was trying to put to paper earlier.

Life is like that; we are going along and all of a sudden things just aren’t right. But when we break, relax and give ourselves a chance to take in the things around us it helps clear out cobwebs we forgot to sweep out the day before. Then you begin to feel everything is right again.

June 26, 2012

Your Blog Strategy ... You Really Need One

by Rodney Page

You’ve signed all the paperwork, and your book is headed into preproduction. Now, everything you hear and read advises you to get busy on your premarketing, particularly writing a blog.

Well, okay. Sounds good, but what is your blog strategy, what do you write about, who do you want to read it, and how do you get them to do so?

I believe the key question in developing a blog strategy is answered easily: is your book fiction or nonfiction? If nonfiction, you’ll likely pursue a direct strategy. If fiction, your strategy will be indirect.

Direct Strategy for Nonfiction Authors

1.     What is your objective? It will likely focus on establishing your expertise. (Example answer: To be perceived as a top southeastern authority on growing dwarf azaleas.)
2.     Who do you want to read your blog? (Example answer: Amateur gardeners in the southeast.)
3.     How do you make them aware of your blog? (Example answer: Share blog content with appropriate publications, websites, radio shows, other blogs, etc.)
4.     What do you want the readers to think or do after they’ve read your blog? (Example answer: Believe you are an expert on dwarf azaleas; comment on and share your blog with others who need your expertise.)

Indirect Strategy for Fiction Authors

For fiction, the steps are the same, but the objective 1 is quite different. Instead of establishing expertise, the fiction writer will establish awareness of shared interests.

My book, Powers not Delegated, is a political thriller with a decidedly conservative slant. It is my first fiction work, and the target market and key influencers don’t know me from Adam’s house cat. Therefore, using my blog to tout my great writing and plot development skills would be futile. So, what can I do?

Perhaps the best way to illustrate my point is to answer the four questions for my own blog.

  1. To create name (brand) awareness at the national level and be perceived as an astute observer of current political events; provide informed political commentary consistent with the readers’ point of view.
  2. Target potential buyer subsegments, influential conservative media/editorial commentators, and conservative politicians.
  3. Share blog content with appropriate publications, websites, radio shows, other blogs, etc.
  4. “This guy knows what he’s talking about and shares my views”; “He writes well”; “I would consider buying his book”; “I (key influencer) would consider endorsing his book.” Comment on and share my blog with others who would enjoy my views.

Lastly, I suggest several “rules” for both fiction and nonfiction bloggers:

  • Stick to your plan; the temptation arises to veer off course and post something that has nothing to do with your blog’s strategy. Don’t give in.
  • Set quantitative and timing goals and stick with them. I write two blogs weekly and attempt to post them on Monday and Thursday mornings.
  • Always respond to any comments quickly and courteously.

I hope these strategy ideas help you. If you’re left wondering how to reach these goals, that is a separate post that I’d be honored to address in a future Suite T. Blogging is made for us writers! Now, get to it. Strategize, write, and grow your following.

(read part 2 of Rodney Page's Blog Strategy advice here)


Rodney Page is the author of the upcoming novel Powers Not Delegated
A native of Georgia, Rodney's business career includes a variety of senior management positions and consulting engagements in a broad range of industries, from startups to Fortune 500 firms. In 2005 Rodney co-authored Leading Your Business to the Next Level...the Six Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth. He lives in Atlanta. His passions include hiking, photography, reading, and, of course, University of Georgia football.

June 25, 2012


by Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor

In every aspect of our society there are misfits, those that just don’t fit the mold. We have seen this is in sports, arts, music and writing. 

In sports we saw this in the 1968 Olympics with a competitor in the high jump named Dick Fosbury.  Fosbury chose not to use the three common styles of high jump and came up with what was called the Fosbury Flop. Dick Fosbury flopped right into the record books with a Gold Medal.

In the art world we have Vincent Van Gogh. We look back at what we now recognize as a great artist and yet at his death at age 37, his accomplishments were known only to a small group and appreciated by even fewer. Many of his 2100 works are now priceless.
Music has many examples. The most famous was the little studio in Memphis called Sun Studios, owned by Sam Phillips. Sam created a studio where those who were unacceptable elsewhere were welcomed. Sam was recording at the time what was known as “race” music. In 1951 Sam recorded a Clarksville MS group called the Delta Cats with a piano player named Ike Turner. The song recorded was “Rocket 88” which is considered the granddaddy of rock n’ roll.

This led to a migration of many misfits from across the region. Musicians who didn’t fit the mold of southern blues, gospel, or country found their way to Memphis to record where they were accepted. Artists like Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Sam Phillips’ self-proclaimed greatest discovery Chester Arthur Burnett better known as Howlin’ Wolf, all came to follow their dream. 

And now we come to writing. Maybe you have yet to find your fit in the literary world. Maybe you have been told that your work does not fit the category or the category the agent or publisher represent. Maybe you have been told you don’t fit the mold. If so look at you potential. The misfits mentioned above went on to become very successful in their field. They kept on until they found the right fit. You must continue on until you find your right fit.
If you have an example of a writer that was a misfit and found their fit let me know. I would love to share their success with others. I am looking forward to hearing from you and I hope to hear that misfit that overcame was you.         


June 21, 2012

Getting Past our Writing What-Ifs

by Heather Day Gilbert

A couple months ago, I wrote a blogpost entitled Who Cares What’s Hot for my friend and fellow blogger, Julie Cave It was chock-full of the swagger and confidence that comes from being a newly-agented author.

We’re two months into the submission process on my Viking novel, and the swagger has swagged on outta here.

I chose to write about a historical time period I’m particularly fond of, since I’m supposedly related to Eirik the Red. The story of my main character, Gudrid, shows up in the Icelandic sagas, and I felt strongly that someone needed to write about this woman.

She came with her third husband (the other two died) to the “new world” of North America. She had the first European child born on this soil (his name was Snorri, not Virginia Dare). She grew up steeped in paganism, but rejected tradition and became a Christian. Icing on the cake: she was a ward of Eirik the Red.

A story worth telling, no?

I enjoyed bringing Gudrid to life, writing in the first-person, present tense to make it more immediate. She’s a realistic, believable character, not some weird Viking from Hagar the Horrible. She struggles with temptation in her marriage. She fights slavery. She has to survive while caring for a baby.

I’ve received mixed responses from publishers, but one that was particularly discouraging indicated that though the writing is sound, people won’t want to read about Vikings because they don’t know much about Vikings.

What? I thought the purpose of reading books was to open new worlds to us. I know many people knew nothing about the nature of black “help” in the South until The Help arrived on the scene. People knew little about Johannes Vermeer until Girl with a Pearl Earring came along. And The Mists of Avalon has single-handedly colored the way we look at King Arthur and Guineviere.

Fiction can change the way we view an entire time period, for good or for bad. I believe there’s enough evolutionary (Clan of the Cave-Bear), pro-pagan hype out there. I felt it was time time to show how Christianity changed an entire group of people for the better.

I’m nothing, if not passionate about this book.

But what if no one wants to publish it (my husband assures me this will not happen, and he hasn’t read the book…bless his heart). What if these years of research/revising/checking the Old Norse dictionary for word choices are worthless in the end?

What if Gudrid’s story is never told?

I’m trying to have faith. Trying to leave this in God’s hands. But, at the end of the day, God will choose to prosper this book or not. I did it for His glory. I was born to write, simple as that. Every time I try to stop writing, God sends me numerous messages that I’d better stick with it.

****How about you? Where are you in this writing process? What are your What ifs? And how do you feel about reading about new historical time periods?****


Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Fifteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as eight years spent homeschooling her three children. Her historical fiction novel, God’s Daughter, is rooted in the Icelandic sagas. It tells the story of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, the first European woman to have a baby on North American soil. You can find out more at Heather’s blogspot, or at her FB page. She’d also love to chat on twitter @vikingwritergal. 

June 19, 2012

Crocodile Tears

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

We've all gotten them, usually thanks to a well-meaning relative, or a friend who doesn't know us very well:

A forwarded email sharing a supposedly touching story that you absolutely must read.

Never mind that it usually ends with, "If you have a heart, you'll send this to twelve people you love."  Or that 99 times out of 100, a quick check on will verify that this "true" story -- like most other forwards -- is completely bogus.

What I find most offensive is the uncredited writer's weak attempt at conjuring emotion out of us merely by stating that one of the characters cried.

How many times have we read lines like these, toward the climax of one of these tepid tales:

"With tear-stained cheeks, she thanked the kind stranger."

"With a tear in his eye, the panhandler accepted the old woman's last dollar."

"Choking back the tears, he..."  Oh, knock it off already.

Whoever originates these anonymous forwards has an uncanny knack for overestimating their own ability to create emotion through story, to the point where they must wave a flag and show that this moment is supposed to be touching.  Trying to elicit sorrow from a reader without actually giving them something meaningful to feel is like trying to make someone laugh with a bad joke.  In both cases they'll leave groaning.

So how do we create emotion in a story so that the reader feels it, instead of just our overemotional characters? 

First, the reader must get personally involved in order to even care. They have to empathize with or understand the main characters. (Granted, that's a lot to ask of an email forward, so instead of bothering with them, let's just learn what not to do from them.)   By giving the reader real people with authentic personalities -- including the bad guys -- our fictional folks become people they want to know, or maybe want to avoid, and either way they're involved.

Clever writers also create a mood with setting; perhaps the most blatant and overused -- but still effective -- being rain when the hero's future is suddenly gloomy.  Empty or broken objects in the scene are oft-used echoes of the hero's potentially lost cause.  There is much that can parallel the circumstance and suggest "this is sad" besides tears.

Not that characters can't cry, of course.  Giving them true-to-life personalities demands that they are capable of waterworks.  We simply have to save it for moments of genuine anguish.  If our heroine becomes inconsolable because she lost her wedding ring, how will we top that emotion later on when her mother dies?  Save that beat for when you really need it.

A savvy reader will pick up on inappropriate and overblown character reactions.  Sometimes it's best to let the scene speak for itself and let the reader decide how sad they think things are.  In the words of Lemony Snicket:

"When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them."

June 18, 2012

Father's Day Blues

by Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor

One of my Father’s Day gifts was an autobiography of one of the greatest living blues guitarists, Buddy Guy. When I Left Home: My Story by Buddy Guy with David Ritz is an excellent account of the Bluesman’s life. From his boyhood home in Louisiana to his current history in Chicago, Guy’s memories are shared and the appreciation for his journey is evident. David Ritz, who has written autobiographies for Etta James and Ray Charles, and a biography of Marvin Gaye’s life, has again done a great job here.

I also recently received Twilight of the Drifter, a Southern Gothic crime story, from the author himself, Shelly Frome. Shelly has weaved together the Blues, politics and crime in a Southern setting. Shelly has accurately portrayed life in the south and especially on Beale Street in Memphis, TN.  The Home of the Blues should be proud.

I saw an interview with Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones some years ago where he was asked where they got their music. The interview was conducted in St. Louis. Wood’s answer was, “From across the river.” The interviewer said he understood they were from Great Britain. Woods said, “No, from across the Mississippi River from the Delta.” Like so many Americans the interviewer was unaware that many of the songs brought to America by the British Music Invasion of the 60’s were simply returned to their homeland. Whether you are assisting a Blues legend with an autobiography or involving a character in your story with the life of the Blues it is a great topic to write about. It is rich in culture, legend and folklore. It is one of many gifts a Southern Writer has close at hand.    


June 15, 2012

What's the caption?

Have fun!  Get your creative motor running and post your funny caption below.

June 13, 2012

Dialogue Without Skipping a Beat

by Richelle Putnam, Special Features Director

      Dialogue is like a main artery, pumping life into your manuscript. So much more than simple speech and conversation, dialogue develops storyline action with each passing word. It is an author’s best tool for revealing character strengths and weaknesses.

     How can a writer develop realistic dialogue? Learn to be quiet and listen. Go to any public place and observe, take notes. Women talk differently than men, children differently than women, teenagers differently than children. Women stop to admire a blouse and start back up on the same conversation. Children dart to the Toys-R-Us window and make it clear in loud, shrill voices which toy they want. Most likely, teenagers will be hanging out in groups at record shops and food courts.

You’ll discover lots of jabber filled with incomplete sentences, okay in real life, but not in stories. Why not? It’s boring and doesn’t move the story forward. If a character’s trait happens to be babbling, that’s different. You’re defining the individual.

Allow dialogue to build tension. Here’s an example:

“Hello, William.”
“Whoa. Since when did I become William?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Come on, Julie. What gives?”
“Forget it.”
“Please, tell me.”
“Never mind.”
“Well, okay.”
“I saw you and Cindy. In the gym. Alone. And. And…”
“Hey, Julie, come back!”

That’s short and sweet, but the conversation paints an unmistakable conflict with only dialogue.

And what about dialog tags?

“Come on,” Jan said.
“I’m coming,” Bill said.
“Well, hurry up,” Jan said.
“I said I was coming,” Bill said.
“You say a lot of things,” Jan said.
“What’s that supposed to mean,” Bill Said.
“Just come on,” Jan said.
“I said I was coming,” Bill said.

The word “said” becomes monotonous if used line after line. But does this sound better?

“Come on,” Jan demanded.
“I’m coming,” Bill answered.
“Well, hurry up,” barked Jan.
“I said I was coming,” Bill snarled.
“You say a lot of things,” Jan shouted.
“What’s that supposed to mean,” Bill yelled.
“Just come on,” Jan spouted.
“I said I was coming,” Bill spewed.

That’s even worse! Try this?

“Would you come on?” said Jan.
“I’m coming.” Bill’s voice rose in frustration.
“Well, hurry up. We don’t’ have all day.”
“Don’t get short with me, Jan. I said I was coming.”
“You say a lot of things.”
“And what does that mean?”
Jan rolled her eyes. “Like you don’t know. Let’s just go.”

Dialogue must sound realistic, be true to the character and progress the story.

Read your dialogue aloud. Find its rhythm, the heartbeat. Where it skips a beat, revise it until it reaches that thump, thump, thump. Keep your main artery pumping life into your manuscript.

June 12, 2012

Casting Call

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

From "The Dark Knight"
From time to time I like to watch a movie with the script in front of me.  It's always fascinating to see the finished product alongside its original vision. If you're similarly inclined, one great site where you can find a wealth of scripts from movies, TV shows, plays, musicals, and even radio dramas is  In the "Movie Scripts" section they provide links to everything from Bridesmaids to Purple Rain to Casablanca.

If you're like most writers, when writing fiction you picture it all in your mind like a movie. And it's almost impossible not to form a mental picture of the characters, including the most momentary of bit players.

Likewise, if you're writing nonfiction and actually know the people involved, their physical impressions are even more firmly entrenched.

But let's combine elements of all of that for this interesting scenario: Let's say they're making a movie of your life story, and you have to cast famous actors in the different roles.  Who would you choose to portray you, your family, your friends, your workmates, and the other key players in your life, past and present? 

It's not only a fun and entertaining exercise but a revealing look at your perceptions of those around you. If you're like me, the hardest role of all to cast with any assurance of accuracy is yourself.

Most of us never actually will write down our life story for the world to see.  But as Kimberly Rae advises in the May/June issue of Southern Writers ("Your Story: Writing a Memoir People Will Actually Want to Read"), we all have a tale worth telling, if only to share with those who come after us.  Kimberly speaks of her grandmother, who lived through the Great Depression and had to have a double wedding with her sister to save money.  Because her legacy of adventures were never committed to paper, they can only be handed down through forgetful word of mouth until they eventually fade into oblivion.

You don't have to be a celebrity to write your memoir.  If nothing else, considering immortalizing the significant events of your life. As Kimberly says, "Life is fragile. And beautiful. And each of us has experiences worth recording."  She even points us in the right direction to get us started easily.

 Will your story still be told a hundred years from now?  If you write it down, the answer is yes. 

June 11, 2012

What's the Point of Publishers?

by Rob Eagar

Are publishers the new dinosaur destined for extinction? As Amazon grows and bookstores close, there's a growing sentiment in the new era of publishing that publishers are no longer relevant. E-books and e-readers are rapidly gaining sales over print books. Authors can self-publish their books and get digital distribution on their own. So, who needs a big legacy publisher or any other organization to "publish" their work? This sentiment is magnified as we see frustrated authors start to leave their legacy publisher and chart their own path. A greater sense of freedom and control is offered in this new world where the author becomes the new publisher.

However, this blissful utopian image that futurists predict forgets one major point...human nature. All authors come standard with a healthy dose of ego. Remember, it takes kahunas to tell the world, "I've written a book and you should read it." And, the ego will never disappear, no matter what new technology might bring. The inner influence of ego makes a critical impact upon the way an author chooses to make his or her work public. Thus, I suggest that the author ego may be the single biggest reason that publishers will continue to survive.

As an author and a marketing consultant who's coached over 400 authors at all levels of success, I've seen one desire remain constant. Almost every author loves having someone else value their work. Authors light up when someone else is willing to pay money, dote upon, handle boring details, or sing the praises of their book. This is where publishers make their stand for survival. When authors hear, "You're special and we'll help you," how can they resist?

The more success an author achieves, the stronger the ego's influence. For example, most of the recent successful self-published authors, such as Amanda Hocking, Paul Young, and Darcie Chan, don't stick with self-publishing. They jump ship to lucrative contracts and a team of helpers at a legacy publishing house. Even Amazon, the company responsible for making self-publishing popular, has created their own legacy publisher imprints. Why? Because authors will always make publishing decisions according to their ego. If you're skeptical, let me be more specific. Here's how the author / publisher dance works:

1. Authors want to get paid for their work. Publishers act like big literary banks, paying out money up-front to purchase a manuscript. Most authors can't resist someone offering a check for $25,000, $100,000, or more. And, most authors have no desire to become a business-person or a full-time entrepreneur. They simply want to write and enjoy the accolades. Why self-publish a book and try to sell each copy yourself, when you can get paid up-front with one fat check?

2. Authors hate dealing with the details. Publishers will do the dirty work. Creating a book involves boring stuff, such as editing, page layout, cover design, converting the manuscript to e-book format, sending sales information to retailers, setting up distribution accounts, managing payments, handling returns, etc. And, these steps don't include the all-important need for consistent marketing. How can the author ego rebuff a team of people who are willing to handle these aggravating details?

3. Authors want everyone to read their books. Publishers hold a key to access the masses. They can provide the inside track to national bookstore distribution and a coveted appearance on Good Morning America. While this aspect of publishing has largely become an empty promise, authors will still take the bait. A writer's ego can't resist telling friends, "My publisher is doing these great promotional activities for my new book." When those activities usually fail to occur, authors get mad and breakup with their publishers like pouty teenagers. But, the ego can't survive alone, and before long, they're flirting with each other again.

This love/hate relationship between authors and publishers has endured for over a century. Digital self-publishing and e-books represent wonderful new opportunities. But, the power of new technology is no match against the power of human nature. Therefore, publishers need not fear extinction. The literary ecosystem is bound by a mysterious force that too many people seem to forget. What's the point of publishers? To exist and thrive by keeping the author ego healthy and alive. 
Rob Eagar is a marketing consultant who provides authors, 
businesses, and non-profits with innovative strategies to 
spread their message like wildfire. His consulting firm, 
WildFire Marketing, is at When Rob
isn't consulting, you'll find him fly-fishing, flying down a rocky
trail on his mountain bike, or loudly playing his drums. However, 
his wife Ashley prefers that he join her to quietly paint, 
work in their garden, or watch Jane Austen movies. 
They reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

June 8, 2012

Celebrities Who Write

Even many of his avid fans were surprised.  In the current issue of Southern Writers Magazine we learned that in addition to being an Academy Award nominated actor, Viggo Mortensen is also a painter, photographer, musician ... and prolific writer.

What celebrities have you discovered are also writers?

June 7, 2012

Why You Don't Have Time NOT To Social Network

by Melanie Moore

"I'm just too busy to social network. I simply don't have the time".

I hear this many times from writers, many who come to me to help them with a blog design. They are working hard, trying to build their writing platform, expand their reach, and broaden their audience... but are coming up frustrated.

I am going to share a little secret that I wish someone had told me sooner. I happened upon this truth quite by accident over the last year when I very grudgingly joined Twitter at the urging of a mentor.

You don't have time NOT to social network.

Attending conferences, visiting and commenting on other blogs, and researching ways to build a platform are all very important tasks. I certainly do not want to cast a negative light at all over these vital tasks. However, these tasks also take a great deal of time.

Social media, on the other hand, is a rapidly growing outreach that is a "hit and run" pace. It is also free publicity! You can grow your platform in only 10 minutes a day.

I promise.

10 minutes.

Go ahead.. set a timer. I will wait here.

Here are some tips for growing your platform in 10 minutes a day on a Social Network like Twitter:

1. Sign up for Twitter and follow as many people as possible that have interests common to you. For example, you could search for "Blogger", "Author", "Southern", etc. Most people will follow you back.

2. Jump in on the conversation! Take 10 minutes to respond to every tweet that interests you. Don't be shy! I know at first it feels like you are intruding on a private conversation between two other people, but all tweets are open for everyone to see... and to respond to. This is a great way to make friends!

3. Make Twitter "Lists" -- Lists are an easy way to organize your twitter followers and to get to know others who often reply to your tweets.

4. "Follow" most people back who "follow" you first. This is basic Twitter etiquette, and is a wonderful way to connect with others. However, be sure to check their Twitter profile first to make sure that they are not spammers or trying to sell you something.

I have only been on Twitter for one year, and in only 10 minutes a day, I have seen my Twitter followers grow to almost 3000 followers. My blog pageviews and subscribers have increased, and I am contacted with more amazing opportunities since my subscriber base has grown!

More importantly, I have made some really great friends and found others who share common interests, cheer me up with their funny tweets, and have even won tickets to an awesome conference just by attending Twitter parties!

Go ahead and give 10 minutes of social media a try today! When you do, tweet me and let me know you did! I'm on Twitter at @MelanieAnneTN.

Melanie is a full-time industrial software developer and mom of two boys. She lives in the beautiful Appalachian mountains with her husband and children and writes at Only A Breath about faith, giveaways, family, budgeting, and resources and encouragement for women.

June 6, 2012

The Successful Road

by Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

Experience has taught us that success is not an occurrence so much as a process. Regardless of where you are on the journey to becoming successful as a writer, there are always writers ahead of you and writers behind you as well as on each side of you. You are never alone.

As you progress forward on this road, do not fail to turn around and give attention to those who are behind youthe ones who have not come as far as you.

Funny thing about mentoring someone, during that process you will find you have learned a lot too. Someone told me the act of mentoring is neither completely gratuitous nor completely out of self-interest. Rather, it propagates the success process through others, creating a chain of professionalism, which strengthens with each new link, added.
No successful trait we possess is lost by sharing our knowledge with others, matter of fact, very few things are as rewarding as watching someone else become successful and know you had a hand in it.

Generously sharing knowledge with other writers is beneficial to you. It strengthens your foundation and it expands into the world layers of other successful people. Self-made? Not really; there are always people who helped along the way.

Someone said if you help enough people get what they want, you in turn would get what you want. Never refuse a writer who asks for help; they just may be that one person sent to help you achieve your own success.

So while you are on your journey take time to look around and see who you might can help along their journey. The trip is so much more enjoyable this way.

June 5, 2012


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Last week I overheard someone on TV claim that the most important movie of our time is Star Wars.  Mind you, he was wearing a Jedi tunic at the time, so I think his opinion was a little biased.

I initially dismissed his declaration, but then I weighed the evidence. Star Wars inarguably spawned its share of imitators, inspired a new generation of filmmakers, and revived science fiction to a popularity it hadn't enjoyed since the 50s. It introduced characters, images, movie quotes, theme music, and special effects that are burned into our collective consciousness as vividly as a light saber.

Not that there aren't other movies just as catalytic.  From The Wizard of Oz to Jaws to Avatar, every once in a while something new comes along that has so much impact on its craft it becomes an instant classic.

We can just as readily spot the milestones of television (I Love Lucy, Saturday Night Live, Survivor all were groundbreakers), music (The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna), and stage (The Sound of Music, Cats, Wicked).  Even beyond their own success and endurance is the obvious influence they've had on many others in their field.

But let's talk books.  Who are the literary equivalents of these pioneers?  Who are the authors whose work has made such a difference that the world of books would not be the same without them?

We look at these authors as if they're untouchable gods of literature to whose level of greatness we could never hope to come near, but in truth they were just like you and me.  They had something to say, so they wrote it down.  Did they have any idea at the time that they would change everything?  Not likely.  But they probably felt the same spark we get when a good idea hits us or we turn a phrase that gives us the momentary thrill of creation.

Is it just possible that the book inside you right now could change the world like Romeo & Juliet or Huckleberry Finn?  I like to think so.  Someone is going to be the next great writer.  Write as if it's you.

Meanwhile, I really do want your opinion.  What authors and what books do you think changed everything?  And who is making a difference right now?

June 4, 2012

Tortilla Flat

by Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor

Tortilla Flat, do you recognize the title? Written in 1935 by one of our greatest novelists, his fourth novel was an account of friends enjoying life after the Great War.  This sometimes forgotten novel was the author’s first critical and commercial success. It was made into a movie some years later with stars such as Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield. This often forgotten title was just the beginning for the author. Greater known titles, such as Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row and East of Eden were to follow. John Steinbeck was getting the critical and commercial acclaim as well as the recognition of the public with Tortilla Flat.

In our local Barnes and Noble there is a reprint of a promotional poster for Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men by noting him as author of Tortilla Flat. I found that interesting. I am looking back at all his great titles and the poster was looking forward with only the one successful novel under his belt. Tortilla Flat was his launching pad. The movie Tortilla Flat had yet to be filmed and wouldn’t be for another two years so there was not recognition from the movie. The recognition was strictly from the book itself which was published two years earlier. The Grapes of Wrath came along in 1939 followed by the film Tortilla Flat in 1942. Cannery Row was written in 1945 and East of Eden in 1952. All of which we now recognize as better known titles but again our timeline is seen from the future.

The promotion of Of Mice and Men was carried by the success of Tortilla Flat so the question is, “What is your Tortilla Flat?” What is it you can use for your launching pad? It is something well known or soon will be well known? Whatever it is you must use it. Steinbeck did and then in future years he used The Grapes of Wrath to promote Cannery Row and again all of the above to promote East of Eden. We must use what we have whether it is known or not. Move ahead with your success to support you no matter how large or small you may think it is. Use your Tortilla Flat and who knows, the next time you may use your Of Mice and Men to promote your very own The Grapes of Wrath. Promote yourself! 

June 1, 2012

What's the Caption?

Another Friday and time for some fun, fellow writers!

Here's a picture without a caption.  Come up with one!